Saginaw mailman saves Boy Scout Leader
Piles of old mail prompt letter carrier to jump into action
Postal carrier James A. Davis knew something was wrong with his former Boy Scout master when the mail started to pile up.
Davis, 55, noticed 82-year-old Fred Kline's mailbox was filled with letters. A day later, an ever larger pile of mail "raised a red flag," said Davis, who also lives in Saginaw.
"I've known him for pretty much all of my life, because growing up he was one of my Scout masters," Davis said. "You get to know people's habits."
He had knocked on the door the previous day, a Friday, but when no one answered and Davis' dog didn't bark as it would if it were inside, he didn't think anything was wrong. When he returned the next day, Oct. 1, and saw the mail still there, he knocked again.
This time, the dog barked, and Kline, who had lived there since the 1960s, didn't answer. Davis made a short jaunt to the back door and tried knocking again.
"I kept pounding on the door," he said. "At that point I called 911, because I had a really bad feeling that something happened and wasn't right."
A Saginaw police officer and medical authorities found the doors locked. Officer Justin Severs opened a window and pushed aside curtains, then spotted Kline lying on a bathroom floor, a police report states. Authorities broke out a window in a door to get into the house and reached Kline, where he had been for up to three days, the report said.
He was alert but shaking, police said.
Kline said he was in his kitchen when he apparently suffered a mild heart attack, fell and broke his hip.
"I didn't even know that I fell," he said. "I was there alone, just me and the dog. I didn't wake up until the next morning."
At some point during his ordeal, Kline thought he heard someone and yelled for help.
"I did yell, but I don't think it was loud enough," he said. He dragged himself around the floor but couldn't reach a wall-mounted telephone.
"Time went fast," he said. "I probably passed out a couple times."
Authorities rushed him to the hospital. Scott A. Grierson, Kline's son-in-law, was first to get word of what happened. "He was very emaciated," said Grierson, 50, of Saginaw County's Kochville Township.
Kim Grierson, Kline's daughter, said her father is a diabetic who had not had an insulin shot, eaten or drank for three days. "So he was quite delirious when they did find him," she said. He's now in rehabilitation.
Davis later visited his former Scout master on the mend. "I just did what I had to do," Davis said. "I just knew his habits and knew he always got his mail.
"You just get this feeling inside. Something was bothering me, and that's why I did what I did."
Kim Grierson credited Davis with saving her father's life.
"I think the world of the mailman," said Grierson, 50, of Kochville Township. "I told him he was a godsend. He saved my dad's life."
Kline said he appreciates Davis, who has a long connection to the family. Kline's late wife, Patsy, taught Davis in Sunday school at State Street United Methodist Church.
"It's a great thing that he did," Kline said.
Robin A. Young, 53, who lives in the neighborhood not far from the injured man, said Davis has watched over his route for years, helping residents with mail issues and warning of potential break-in suspects.
"He is such an awesome mailman," she said. "He watches out for everybody. He knows everybody on his route, and he's just very observant."